Susan Pourciau of the Tallahassee-based Florida Housing Coalition gave an update last week on the six months she’s spent in Lakeland and said the steering committee already includes Police Chief Larry Giddens and representatives from health care and philanthropic organizations.
In a conversation with podcast host Bump Galletta, the head of Lakeland’s Community Redevelopment Agency talks about what motivates her (unsung projects that improve people’s lives), what frustrates her (politics, people who hide their criticisms) and what brings her joy (family and a collaborative staff).
An arborist using high-tech tools to examine the Lovers Oak near Lake Morton revealed two findings about the endangered intertwined trees this morning: It’s three trees, not two, as popularly thought, and the trees are at least 150 years old.
Joe Samnik of Palm Harbor, who was hired by the city of Lakeland to inspect Lovers Oak, said it will be at least 30 days before he will finish analyzing the data he and his team are collecting this week and can advise the city on the future of the trees.
The city agreed to pay Samnik $3,300 for his work using infrared photography and other tools to assess the tree’s health. City officials had planned to remove the tree after one of its limb fell on a car passing underneath on Success Avenue. Outcry from residents who want to save the landmark oaks led to another expert opinion.
Also: Ledger coverage
Affordable housing is the likely option for houses and apartments on North Vermont Avenue that the city of Lakeland obtained after owners racked up thousands of dollars in code violations and unpaid fines. A look inside shows heaps of trash and used needles.
The team planning a 180-acre private park west of downtown Lakeland today unveiled their design for the site combining recreation, trails, nature appreciation and culture (including an amphitheater seating 7,500) as they embark on efforts to attract donors. Keep scrolling to see a slideshow about the master plan and a video of this morning’s “reveal” meeting. A second public meeting is being held at 4 p.m. today at First United Methodist Church.
CRIME: Police Chief Larry Giddens credits community involvement for a 31 percent decrease in violent crime in Lakeland between 2014 and 2017. There were no gang-related shootings last year, compared with 18 in 2014, LPD says.
POLITICS: In the GOP primary race for the Florida House District 39 seat, Josie Tomkow has raised $119,905 from a combination of local sources and statewide political action committees, and Jennifer Spath has raised $27,325, all from local sources.
PIPELINE: A test of a natural gas pipeline will close some roads between Polk City and Kathleen in the wee hours of March 12. A similar test will be conducted April 3 from Kathleen to Buddy Rogers Way in Hillsborough County.
Plans are emerging for Mirrorton, the newly unveiled name for a high-end rental development planned for the vacant 10-acre site north of Lake Mirror and east of Lakeland Police headquarters. The company developing 305 multi-story apartments and townhouses there has released two drawings showing their vision for the community’s design. (Check the renderings after the jump.)